Football season was in full swing. The top contenders for the Superbowl were battling it out for the chance to try and fight for a coveted Superbowl ring. Fans took sides and rivalry was reaching its peak. It was game time and everyone knew it, especially Bud Light, who created an advertisement campaign with the slogan “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,” in reference to the superstitions and rituals every die-hard fan practices when their team is up.

 

The thirty-second commercial that aired all throughout the NFL playoffs is set to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and includes a montage of different superstitions fans partake it, whether it be snapping fingers, stomping feet, or, as the company hopes, popping open a bottle or can of refreshing Bud Light beer.

budThe advertisement in itself gains strength and meaning from various sources: the men gathered together at a local sports bar; the tailgaters with their beers extended towards the center of the group, heads bowed as if in prayer; the anxious and excited feeling that comes with a close game, barely able to look through parted fingers if a touchdown has been made; the idea of community and togetherness that comes from not only watching the game as a group, but as a group joined by good beer. There is a sense of shared identity that persists through every single scene in the commercial. They are all watching their team play and they all have a Bud Light in hand. They are all practicing their own little ritual. This is the exact feeling or setting that the company hopes the audience will relate to, if not emulate. In ending the commercial with the text budlight-3“It’s only weird if it doesn’t work” (what Roland Barthes would coin as “anchoring text”) the company seems to interpellate the audience by saying that they understand whatever personal game time tradition the viewer might have, no matter how quirky. It’s the idea that as long as the team you are rooting for wins, nothing is too strange. This creates a one-on-one connection with the viewer, establishing a sense of knowing and familiarity. By extension, Bud Light becomes a familiar presence and almost seeks entry into the game day process, becoming an insider in the viewer’s specific tradition. While one might argue that this excludes non-ritual bearing audiences, but the commercial almost calls such fans to start up their own tradition, and to start it with Bud Light.

Furthermore, in terms of the shared sense of identity within the commercial, that identity reaches beyond its frames and reaches out to the audience. The commercial highlights a commonality between football fans, creating an imagined community of fanatics or what Daniel Boorstin would define as a “consumption community.” Despite never having met any of the actors in the commercial or perhaps any of the other ceremony practicing football fans, the commercial allows for a shared understanding between all such audiences, almost as insider knowledge or true dedication to a team. Even the song choice plays into the idea of an imagined community as even anyone who is familiar with the song (which is assumed to be the majority of the population as it is one of the most famous songs in American pop history) can relate to the commercial on a certain level.

By using specific keys or signifiers Bud Light was able to craft a shared identity between football fans alike, whether they actually practiced game day traditions or not. It was able to anchor itself as a part of the imagined tradition and effectively created a lasting impression, weaving its way into coolers and refrigerators across America.

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